25. A Stolen Ride

I stole a ride yesterday. My in-laws live close to Durham Forest, and we had to bring my daughter there for her cousin’s birthday party. So while my wife visited with her parents, and my son played with his cousin.   What was I to do?

Um, ride. That’s what I was to do.

So I stole away for a little rip. It was especially sweet because I raced last weekend, and rode late on Thursday night (and my son was very quick to point out that I came home too late for adequate snuggling time) and I didn’t want to be away from my family much more. But today, while he played with his favourite cousin, and while my daughter went to a birthday spa party, and while my wife had a visit with her parents, it was time for a guilt free ride. Woot woot.

To make it even sweeter, every fall ride has the added threat that it will be the last of the season, so this time of year makes me want to squeeze in as many rides as possible.

So, with three hours before sundown, my wife pushed me out the door to “Go for a ride. Seriously, Ambrose is playing, and I’m just going to talk to my parents. Go.”

And I did.

And it was awesome.

Because riding a bike is always awesome–even though, for the first time in months, it was a bit chilly and I had to wear a long sleeve shirt under my jersey, and full finger gloves, but whatever.

I did 30k on Thursday night, so I figured an hour or so today would be enough.

An hour or so wasn’t enough. Not even close, because, man, I was on last night. I usually get lost in Durham within the first 10k, and then just tool around in my usual “Where the hell am I” circles, looking for a cut in, but the first 20k was a sweet weave of awesome single track on trails that I sometimes can’t find, and usually don’t ride proficiently. But not yesterday. I found them, I rode them, and I nailed features that I usually don’t–spending a whole chunk of it just nipping from trail to trail. Sweet.

At one point during the ride, I met two riders at a technical climb. While they waited for me to pass, I nailed a sweet ascent, and as I grunted past, I heard one of the riders say “How’d he do that?”. Usually, I imagine riders saying “How’d he cram all of that body into his spandex?” so it was kind of cool to be the subject of a flattering comment. I wanted to stop, get off my bike and tell the rider three things:

  1. Trust your tires.
  2. Look ahead of your bike.
  3. Just keep pedaling.

But I didn’t stop because I was too busy being boss and awesome.

I gotta say though, I was pretty chuffed after hearing that comment.

Later on, when I was back to my usual “Where the hell am I?” circling, I hit the same climb again and totally got owned by the root at the top. Stupid root. And how the hell did I cram all of my body into spandex…

But I continued riding. I nailed a few other features. I missed a few other features. I realized that I should have stopped riding, gotten off my bike, and told myself three things.

  1. Trust your tires.
  2. Look ahead of your bike.
  3. Just keep pedaling.

Good advice. Too bad I was too dumb to give it to myself.

And then the universe spoke to me. As days do, it turned to night. But I wasn’t finished riding yet. I just wanted to squeeze a little bit more into my ride (stomps feet)! So I doubled back on one of my favourite sections for another 6k. Not a smart move. The sun was setting, and it’s descent was non negotiable. But I was on, I thought, and I rode.

And it was dark, but it was awesome. I really couldn’t see the trail in front of me, so I didn’t brake for roots; I didn’t jerk my bars around trees; and I didn’t ride tentatively over obstacles. I just rode. Besides, I figured I knew the trails, so whatever. I’d hit a root and say to myself “Oh yeah, there’s a root there” or I’d hit a rock and I’d say “Oh yeah, there’s a rock there”. Or I’d hit a tree and say “Hey tree, watch where you’re going.”

Don’t worry, I talked to the tree. We worked it out.

But the fact is, because I couldn’t see the small stuff on the trail, I HAD to trust my tires to do the work, and because I have 44 year old eyes, it was like I was looking ahead of my bike because I couldn’t see anything anyways (near or far). And because I was clawing at the last specks of daylight, trying to squeeze the last bit out of the ride, I had no choice but to just keep pedalling. It. Was. Awesome.

I’m not saying I recommend riding in the dark without lights, because, you know, trees, but it made me ride the way I should always tide.   Sweet lesson for Team Colin.

It was awesome. I was boss. It was dumb, but whatever.

So I rode an additional 6k while night was falling, and the final k after night had actually fallen. Total darkness. It was so hard to see, I had to ride by feel. If my tires crunched on something, I counter steered back onto the trail

I made it to the Team Colin Support Vehicle under a shroud of darkness, but damn, I kicked at that darkness and won. It’s so awesome to squeeze an extra bit of riding out of an stolen ride.

Stumbling in the dark, I racked my bike, changed into dry clothes, and flipped a CD into my CD player for some sweet driving music on the drive home. It was a Taylor Swift mixed tape. Aw dangit. I ejected the CD, and popped in another. Son of a—it was another Taylor Swift mixed tape. How many Taylor Swift mixed tapes can a grown man possibly own?

Three. The answer is three. Yes, a grown man can have three Taylor Swift mixed tapes, but whatever, nothing was going to get me down, so I cranked the volume on “The Story Of Us” and owned it.

And by the way, so what if I own all of her CDs, including the Deluxe version of 1989 (the one that comes with the special edition polaroid pictures)? She makes good songs. Listening to her sing, I thought the story of ME.

The story of me is awesome.

And I feel like it’s just starting.

And then the universe spoke to me again. I didn’t want a profound life lesson—I was just out for a rip—but before leaving the parking lot, I got a text from my wife. She told me that one of her former colleagues died today.

He retired in June. 3 months ago.

And the importance of the story of ME became even more important.

Because, while squeezing the last drops out of a ride, on a ride that was squeezing the last drops out of the riding season, ON A BIKE WHERE I’M ALWAYS SQUEEZING ALL THE DROPS OUT OF MY LIFE, it made me feel alright about the first few chapters of my life. The last chapter was awesome, this chapter is awesome, and I can’t wait to see what bossness comes with the next chapter. Hopefully I won’t break up with Taylor Swift (because I have no idea how she’ll rhyme Team Colin in her break up song).

I don’t know if my clock will end three months after I retire, but if it does, you can make damn sure there won’t be a single regret, and in order to ensure of that I’m going to keep on squeezing every last bit of life out of the time I’ve got.

And a good chunk of it will most definitely, certainly, absolutely, be on my bike,

Ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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24. Great Albion Enduro

The Great Albion Enduro.

Superfly Racing said they weren’t just going to host an enduro race, but a GREAT enduro race.  Sweet.

The Superfly website billed it as follows:

“…one of Southern Ontario’s most popular riding centres, switch directions on half the trails, add some unique unmarked trails, AND add a chunk of pure singletrack in the Palgrave tract, along with several kms of rail trail, and what do you get?  The GREAT Albion Enduro.”

Lofty goals.  However, even though I knew Superfly Racing always stage awesomeness, I was still a bit skeptical.  I mean, without even scrolling down on the event website, they used the word GREAT five times.  Let’s be honest, I’m no stranger to awesome superlatives (and in this case, super hyperbole), but every time I use the word “awesome”, it’s because whatever I’m describing is totally, 100%, honest to goodness, awesome, so with such gratuitous use of the word ‘great’, Team Colin had to check out the Albion Enduro—sorry, the GREAT Albion Enduro–to see just how great it would be.

Wait a sec, what’s a Palgrave?

Which distance–40k or 80k?  I’m not a frequent Albion rider.  In fact, it would be only my second time there (My first was at Superfly’s Endur O-Cup in July.) and then I heard that the Green Monster was going to be at the end of the race.  The Green Monster is to climbs what bullies are to the school cafeteria.  Mean, dumb, and nasty.  Superfly’s website also said the race would give us about 800m of climbing.  I spent a good deal of time debating the distance.  40k would be fun, and 80k would be a slog—especially since the last time I tackled the Green Monster, it was in the middle of a 25k race, not the end, and this time I’d have to do it twice

But then I realized that I was up to it.  Prior to this season, an 80k mountain bike race or ride wasn’t even a distant aspiration, but after the joy I experienced in the 109k distance of the Eager Beaver, the fun of the 100k Kawartha Lakes Classic road tour two weeks after the EB, and the (almost) ease of the 38k Kingston XCM, I realized that distance riding wasn’t as tough as I always thought it was.  It’s kind of dumb that it took me four years to finally ride a hundred k, but there you have it.  Also, it’s nearing the end of the MTB riding season, so I’m in peak shape, and I figured it was time I challenged myself with a proper marathon distance.

So I registered for the 40k.  No, that wasn’t a typo.

My family wouldn’t be at the race—and I’m not just talking about my wife and kids.  I’m talking about my bike shop family, my Substance Projects family, and my MTB family at large.  Without my FAMILY there to help me celebrate the experience, I felt like a giant tree would fall in an epic forest, and nobody would be there to hear the BOOM.  Nobody would be there to share it with the tree.  Yes, I’m the giant tree in that analogy.  When I bust out my first epic 80k MTB ride, I want to be able to share it with the people who enabled me to get there—because that BOOM is going to be…wait for it…awesome!

Full Disclosure:  Sean Ruppel and Superfly are awesome, and I know they’re family to legions of riders, but they just aren’t MY family (yet) because I’ve only done a two of their races.  I always think it’s so wicked that pretty much EVERYONE in the MTB world is awesome.  My local bike shop is awesome, but I bet yours is too.  Likewise, my MTB family is awesome, and I know yours is too.

Registration.  With the inherent craziness of the start of a school year in a household that has two teachers, a 9 year old, and an 11 year old, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to race, and I couldn’t pre-register, but Supefly allowed Day-Of Reg., so I waited until the morning.  Rain was coming, and the old me might have crapped out, but the new me was actually looking forward to some nasty weather to keep things interesting.

If you’re going to play bikes, its way more fun in the muck.

To skip ahead to the end of the day, and to save the effort of reading this entire post, when all was said and done The Great Albion Enduro lived up to its name.  And more.  it wasn’t just all of the awesome (and great) stuff at Albion Hills.  It also included an awesome (and great) chunk of Palgrave, and all of the awesome (and great) extra touches of a Supefly Racing event (Sean Ruppel at the helm, wood oven pizza, a little sample of super hipster beer–courtesy of The Second Wedge Brewing co., handmade awards for the Clydesdales, the 3 Rox Racing yard sale, and live music.  Oh yeah, and a free shirt!

Race Report:  The Great Albion Enduro.  September 17, 2016

I met my riding buddy, John, a few minutes before the start.  After playing it safe at the start in Kingston a few weeks ago, we decided to seed ourselves closer to the front of the pack for this start.  We worked our way up as far as we could, and after a few course notes from Sean Ruppel, the race started.

John likes to hit his own pace, so while most riders rode single file, he darted in and out of the pack to pass.  I just tried to keep up.  The rain drops started falilng, and we spent the first bit on easy double track (with a smidge of singletrack) before looping back through the Start/Finish area.  The rain picked up a bit, and made for some slick grassy sections, and I realized that my Thunder Burt tires (with minimal knob) were a stupid choice.  A few slips and spins threw me off my game, so I spent the rest of the race riding very tentatively.  Stupid tires.

Pfft.  Stupid me.  When I knew rain was in the forecast, I should have changed them.

The course wound through some great Albion single track before a a quick zip along a side road that took us to the Palgrave Tract.  Ohhhhhh, a Palgrave is a forest….with trails. Sweet.  The Palgrave Tract was tight, twisty, technical, and tonnes and tonnes of fun:  great rock gardens; short, punchy climbs; sweet jumps and drop offs; rocks, roots, and general MTB goodness, and all the other ingredients of an awesome MTB mix.

We left Palgrave for a return along the side road, and zipped up to a short stretch of rail trail.  It was raining, we were booking it.  So awesome!  The thrill of pedals, trail, wind, and adrenaline.

The guy who drafted me the entire time on the flat stuff thanked me for the break.  If you’ve ever drafted behind a Clydesdale, I hear it’s pretty sweet.  We’re like a brick wall, and we create a LOT of suck.  I imagine the person behind me throwing their feet off their pedals and screaming “Wheeeeeee”. It’s just how a Clydesdale gives back.

You’re welcome, Otto.

The course took us back into Albion Hills and the race got even more fun.  Apparently, many of the trails were run backwards, but everything was new to me, so I didn’t know the difference.  The roots started to get wet, and there were a few slippy-slidey sections, but the rain never really took hold, and it was mostly just managably wet.

And then I lost a cleat screw on my shoes.    I tried to continue as my foot twisted in my pedal, but it was no use.  I had to dismount to fix it.  I spent a few minutes trying to fix it while riders passed.  The bolt sheared of, and there was no easy fix, so I spent a few more minutes trying to jam my clip back into my shoe so I could continue.  I couldn’t unclip in the event of a bail, but I could finish the race.  Tricky business, not being able to unclip.  Tricky business.

Okay, the tire choice was my fault, but the cleat thing was totally my shoe’s fault.

If my knobbyless tires threw me off my game at the beginning of the race, not being able to unclip really threw me off my game.  In truth, the inability to unclip made me ride through, over, and up many features that usually scare me, but I was so tentative, and I know I could have given more.

The last 15k was the pure, sweet, singletrack that makes Albion Hills such a great destination.  Damn, they know how to cut a trail at Albion, and damn, Sean nailed the course with the perfect mix of single and double track, trail variety, and just plain fun.

Not to mention butter tarts.  The aid station at around 32k had butter tarts.  Mmmmm.  Sweet buttery tart goodness.

It was another quick zip through a maze of Albion trails (apparently in reverse, but like I said, it was all new to me), to the bottom of that jerk, the Green Monster.

I have four words for the Green Monster:  You don’t scare me, you big stupid jerk.  Okay, that wasn’t four words.  And it wasn’t true either.  Like a true bully, the Green Monster had me shaking in–my clipped/unclipped shoes for the entire race–not because of WHAT it was, but what it REPRESENTED.  It wasn’t just big, it was at the end of the race, and it became bigger and bigger by the minute.  By the time I got to it, it was a giant ball of fear.  It was the kids who made fun of my Ozzy Osbourne 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, or my stupid glasses, or my shaggy 70s haircut.

Well, I’m not going to take it any longer you big jerks—I need these glasses to see, and I really like Ozzy Osbourne, and my mom makes me get this damn bowlcut every time we go to the barber.  I mean, um, I’m not going to take it any more because the only way to manage a big hill is to get to the top of it by any means necessary.  So, after fearing the hill for the entire race, and holding back so I’d have something to give when it came, I rode up half of it, and then gave up to walk—with everyone else.

Seriously, Colin, it’s just a hill.

After the climb, the course gave us one more k of sweet Albion trail before the finish, and as I found a final burst of energy on the last switchbacks down to the finish line, I heard the sweet acoustic echo of a folk singer crooning “Bobcaygeon”, one of my favourite songs.  What an awesome way to cap an awesome race.

And Sean even announced my finish.  He didn’t say “Team Colin” because we’re not super cool BFFs yet, but it was a nice touch to announce all of the riders

2:44.  5th place Clydesdale.  1,000m of climbing.

End of Race Report.

Sean Ruppel and Superfly sold themselves waaaaay short.  The race wasn’t just great, it was awesome.  Spectacular course, cool vibe, great music, terrific people, sweet t-shirt (even though it wasn’t Ozzy barking at the moon), and more fun than a 44 year old guy should be allowed to have on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

But here’s the funny thing.  It really was awesome.  And it sort of wasn’t. Everything about the race was awesome, but nothing about my experience was–there wasn’t a life changing epiphany, or profoundly challenging experience, or anything exceptional.  My blogs usually write themselves because I’m always moving forward (as a person, a rider, and a racer), and the content of my post becomes whatever challenge and circumstances brought me to the end of a ride, but this one was different.  Not bad different, and not unawesome different, just different.

It was my 40th race.

The 40th time I strapped a hemlet on my head and threw myself to the universe.

And nothing went boom?

So I had to dig.  But it wasn’t hard to find, because it was a Saturday afternoon and there was a bike race, and I did it.  And for as long as I’m able to pedal my bike, that energy will continue to create the most epic of booms.

Ride.

Sweet photo courtesy of Ted Anderton at Apex Photography.  He always makes me look better than I think I am.

23. The Kingston XCM

2016 Kingston XCMWohoo, the Kingston XCM/        Oh No, the Kingston XCM

I have a love/hate relationship with the Substance Projects/Cycle Solutions XC Marathon Kingston Trophy, held at the MTB Kingston farm. On the HATE side, it’s the furthest race from my home (over two and a half hours drive), the date has fallen on a steaming hot day for the last three years, it’s the longest race of the XCM, and it’s one hell of a tough course. In the past, the race has just slaughtered me—I feel like a tool on the technical stuff (and have to walk many of the features), and I push so hard on the rest of it, that I always finish the race like a zombie. I’ve raced it three times, and each time I get beat up.

On the LOVE side of the equation, it’s a bike race, so there’s that. Plus, I figured I was up to the challenge. After all, I’m in way better shape this season because I’ve been riding my single speed so often, and I just did two, one hundred K rides in the last few weeks (although not on a mountain bike)…

Also, I had something to prove. Last year I missed the turn from the road to the Start line, and rode a frantic 6k prior to even starting the race.

And, since the Kingston XCM is the last mountain bike race, on the last weekend of the summer, it would be a great chance to squeeze the last bits of cycling out of an awesome summer holiday.

Finally, the Kingston XCM was the day that my wife’s cousin’s daughter was getting married in Niagara-On-The-Lake.

Wait, what?

Aw dangit. How on earth could I race in Kingston in the afternoon, and then make it to a wedding that was four and a half hours away.

Oh crap.

With a bit of fancy talk, my wife’s family agreed that I could skip the wedding ceremony, as long as I made it in time for supper at 7PM. Okay, maybe it wasn’t whole hearted agreement, but they more or less acquiesced to the idea. Wohoo for tacit approval!  They would pick up my wife and kids, and drive them to the wedding.  I’d show up for dinner in my car, and then drive them home.  The A-Team couldn’t have planned it better.

The race started at 11:30, and dinner started at 7:00: That gave me 7.5 hours of DO time. So I started doing some math. I love doing math. The race would last two and a half hours (or so); it would take me about an hour (or so) to cool down and shower; another two and a half hours (or so) to get back home to Scarborough; about half an hour (or so) to change; and about 90 minutes (or so) to drive to the wedding.  That’s about 8 hours of DOING, and a lot of “or so” that could complicate the endeavour.

Double crap. Stupid math.  Okay, so maybe I’d miss the first course, but I’d totally make it in time for the salad–I mean, what were the chances there’d be traffic or construction on the highway into, through, and out of, Toronto, on a long weekend?

Triple crap. The chances of traffic and construction into, through, and out of, Toronto on a long weekend were about 100%

Okay, so all I had to do was find a way to bend time-space continuum in order to accommodate me.

It wouldn’t be easy, but I’m Team Colin, and I’d find a way. My team was counting on me. Yes, I’m aware that I am the entire team.

I love planning, so the first thing I did was figure a way to break the day up into manageable chunks. I assigned 4 parts to the day I would now call

The Day Team Colin Did The Impossible.

Here’s the plan:

1.) Get to Kingston

2.) Cram body into spandex and race the Kingston Trophy XCM

3.) Drive home, shower, and cram body into a bow tie (and a shiny blue suit!).

4.) Drive to Niagara-On-The-Lake in aforementioned bow tie and blue suit, be charming, and engage in general wedding frivolousness.

Chunk 1: Get to Kingston

I figured I’d camp in Kingston so that I’d get a better start to the day. I conscripted my friend to keep me company and be my co-pilot, packed the Team Colin support vehicle, and drove to Kingston on Friday afternoon. Getting there was easy, I thought, I could totally make this happen.

Just after parking my RV on Friday night, a guy named Bryant popped up beside me. Bryant was using this race as a training ride for the Single Speed World Championships. I was the loser in the single speed category of the last three XCM half marathon races. There could not have been two more disparate riders camped out beside each other. He totally threw my confidence. I spent the night wondering why I was there, and how I could call myself a racer compared to him? It was my 10th race of the season, and I hadn’t been even close to the podium. But that’s for another blog post.

I shook it off, fell asleep, and awoke the next the morning, fresh and ready to race.

Chunk 1 completed.

Chunk 2: Race the Kingston XCM

It was a bit of a ride from the parking lot (and camping area), to the start line, which was on a farmer’s lane separating two fields. I met my riding buddy, John, at the Start Line, and we hovered near the back of the pack. Dan Marshall arrived, announced a few cautions, and the race started.

Race Report: Kingston XCM. September 3, 2016

The pack bolted along the gravel farm track, before heading across the field on a bumpy grind to the trails. It didn’t do much to thin the pack, and on reflection, our start position was dumb (even though it was nice to ride together for a while) because it was a dreadfully slow pace at times. We got hung up by the group every time there was a narrow tree gap, or at a tough technical feature. Kingston doesn’t have giant climbs, but it has rocks, roots, and trees, and the trail builders have mastered the craft of utilizing them very very well.

It’s not enough to call the trails at MTB Kingston awesome. They are funner than fun, awesomer than awesome, and excellenter than excellent. Put plainly, it’s a bunch of sweet, technical, awesome single track. We were going at a slow pace, but the tight corners, techhie rock gardens, and angry trees kept us on our game.

Just like the day was separated into chunks, so was the race: the north side that was perched on a ridge above a lake (with a sweet maze of tight and twisty single track); the corn field, barn, and pump tracks (so sweet) that led into some more super fun single track; the off camber section that led to what Dan called “The Rocky Stuff; and the last bit of single track that ended with a short climb to the finish. There would be aid stations at 15k (in the barn) and at 30k.

After the first few k, the trail widened into farm track, and John and I upped our pace. We passed a dozen or so riders.

We were at the 8-10k point of the race, flying through a corn field on the south side of the road, and it happened. TWINK! I popped a spoke. I didn’t think much of it, and kept riding.

GNARRRRRLTKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK.

What the?

My stupid damn spoke—a few riders passed–wound itself around my cassette—a few more riders passed–and jammed my rear derailleur up and into my other spokes. Riders kept passing.

I spent a few harried minutes trying to remedy the situation. Finally, with my spoke out of the way (and bent around a different spoke) and my derailleur sort of straightened, I got back on my bike and pedaled. It was no good.

After three more tries at straightening my derailleur and trying to ride, I was at least able to pedal. I was within eyesight of the parking lot and could have easily taken a DNF, but I was there to race, and even if it took me all night, I was going to finish.

Each time I pushed hard, my gears clunked and skipped. Through the barn, out onto the awesome pump track, and back into the forest. I could only coast or pedal gently, and kept getting passed.

And then, ahead of me on the trail, Matt Morrish (the manager of my bike shop—and sponsor of the race–Cycle Solutions) stood, bathed in a ray of light that broke through the treetops. Birds fluttered around his head, an ethereal glow surrounded him, and through the haze of my cussing and frustration with my disabled bike, I heard him shout, “Take my bike. Get on it. Ride. Ride! Go! Go! GO!”

He’s about my height (but not quite) and not even close to my size, but when your bike shop manager tells you to finish a race on his bike, well, you finish that damn race on his bike.

We traded bikes, and I was off. There was no time to adjust the bars or seat height, and I even took off with his water bottle and GPS.

I faltered, struggled, and generally looked like a boob. I’ve never ridden a full suspension, and felt like I wasn’t balanced. My bike for the race was my geared Norco Revolver (a hard tail with a 2x drivetrain), and I usually ride a rigid single speed. The bike Matt was offering was a full suspension behemoth, with a 1x suspension.

Plus, I didn’t know how the bike would handle the trail, how much I needed to work the bars at a log or rock, or even how to climb. And since his suspension was dialled for him (a mere wisp of a fellow compared to me) I kept bottoming-out at every log over and root.

I like to get out of my seat and grind up climbs, but I just didn’t have the comfort to stand. So, when we hit the off-camber section of the race (that went up and down a steep ridge a bunch of times) all I could do was stay in my seat and pedal the best I could. With no flow, poor cadence, and little climbing power, I rode like a chump.

And then came The Rocky Stuff. I don’t know who Peter is, but Peter’s Loop nailed me to a tree. It was awfully, horribly, awesome. It was especially tough on a foreign bike, and I had to walk more times than I care to admit, but I got through it. We sailed through the track on the side of a field, and came out to the aid station. Since I was panicked at the first aid station, I didn’t stop. Then, when I traded my bike with Matt, I forgot to look at the GPS to see where I was in the race. Consequently, I raced most of the course without a clue where I was. Based on how I felt, I figured I was the at first aid station (at 15k). I wasn’t. I was at the 30k aid station, and there was only 6k to go. I guess all the time I spent beating myself up made me forgot about my last two rides—both of which were over 100k, and both of which were somewhat easy. I was racing, I felt like I had only ridden 15k, and I was hardly tired. I finished fuelling, and got back on the bike for the last stretch of single track before the Finish line.

In those last few km, I finally felt comfortable on the bike, and had the confidence to book it. It was 6k to the end, and it was awesome. Great trail, great bike.

Even though I felt strong, I held back a bit in anticipation for the last climb, which always kills me.

It didn’t kill me this year. I don’t know why, but it didn’t kill me.

2:23. 4th place Clydesdale. Without my technical, I know I would have finished under 2:10. I’ll take it.

I cooled down, showered the race grime off my body, ate a burger, and came down from an awesome adrenaline rush.

The Kingston XCM may have hurt me in the past, and it did a number to my bike this year, but I think I proved my point.

Chunk 2 successfully managed.

It was almost 2PM. Five and a half hours until dinner.

Chunk 3: Drive Back Home

I made it home in by 5:30, showered again, and successfully changed from a guy crammed into spandex, to a guy crammed into a bow tie.  In the last few minute of the drive home, I started to feel the tiredness. It took me a bit longer than I thought it would to unload my bikes, shower, snack, and get dressed. By 6:15, I was back in the car.

Chunk 3 done. 45 minutes until dinner. 115km of driving. Okay, so maybe I’d make it for the desert table…

Chunk 4: Drive to Niagara

The drive across Toronto was slow at times, but the rest of the drive was smooth sailing. I made it to Niagara-On-The-Lake a bit late, but not too much. My salad was waiting at my place setting. I missed the soup, but I made it to the wedding. All in all, a win for team Colin. Boom. I can’t recall eating the salad, but after a day of racing and driving, it was good. I could have inhaled it with a straw.

Chunk 4 done.

I ate the rest of my meal, I danced, I was merry, I fell asleep in an armchair the foyer for a moment or two, and well after midnight, I sleep-walked to the car, and fell into a deep slumber as my wife drove us home.

Impossible day? Pfft. Impossible is just a big rock garden, or a gruelling climb, or a crazy trail feature. Sometimes you ride it, sometimes you walk it, and sometimes you carry a borrowed bike over it.

And that’s how Team Colin finished the race on someone else’s bike, and made it to Niagara-On-The-Lake in time for the salad

Ride.

PS.

For another perspective on the race, check out Riot On Racing’s post Riot On Racing.  There might even be a picture of Team Colin in the post…

22. Drew Bezanson

Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson.

Yup, THAT Drew Bezanson.  THE Drew Bezanson.

I went riding with my pal Drew Bezanson, and my pal Mark Summers, and my pal Noah Summers, and my pal John (and his pal from work), and my pal Ty, and my pal Erin, and all my pals from Joyride 150.

Team Colin rode in Durham Forest yesterday morning, with the Joyride 150 staff ride. Everyone from Joyride 150 was there (except Leslie and Matt, who stayed at the park): 18 riders in total. Sweet.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

I’d like to paint a picture of this. In the lead, there was Mark Summers, a cycling legend: strong, powerful, agile, and graceful. Close behind Mark was either his son, Noah, or Drew Bezanson. Noah is like a power jack rabbit. Strong pedal strokes, sailing over every feature with ease and grace. Drew is, well, he’s a pro BMX rider, and rides like it’s an X-Games session. Pro athletes bring an A-game that is hard to describe. Then came Ty, who is a cross between Mark and Noah. Strong, graceful, and super jumpy. And then the rest of the group—a bunch of BMXers, riding a bunch of borrowed bikes, on awesome XC trails, like they were back at Joyride. If you rode at the back of the pack and looked toward the lead, you would have seen a head or two bopping up every second to jump something. 18 riders, but there were never more than 14 sets of wheels on the ground. Somewhere in that mix was me, smiling from ear to ear, whooping every time I hit a sweet feature, sometimes getting hung up (so embarrassing, so deeply embarrassing—especially in front of the guys…) wearing a full spandex kit in a sea of Fox baggies and general coolness, but fitting in nonetheless, because part of their coolness was the fact that they knew they were in riding in my world (and still accepting me, even when there were better than me).

If I sound like a fanboy, it’s because I am. Watching these athletes do what they do best was humbling, awe inspiring, and just plain fun.

Fun to be part of a group. Fun to ride with friends. Fun to watch a bunch of BMXers, who were way out of their element (even though an observer would have never guessed). There was a great rivalry and camaraderie, and they just wanted to rip. One of the younger guys rode so hard that he barfed, and it was awesome. It’s never cool to yak on a trail, but he did it, waited for a minute, wiped his chin, and got right back on his bike to let it fly. Actually, it was my bike that he was riding—I have to remember to clean my grips… It was just like the Blog #3 (JOYride 150) that I wrote earlier this year, after a school trip to Joyride. He was riding for the joy if it, and loving every adrenaline filled, barf spewing, sweet single track, minute of it. All of us were.

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Joy. Ride. It’s no coincidence that this was a Joyride 150 staff ride. Mark and Leslie have built cycling nirvana, and their staff embody everything that’s great about the sport. It’s hard to imagine they knew what they were creating a few years ago, or that they ever guessed it would become such a draw for cyclists in the area, but Tuesday was the direct offspring of the magic seeds they sowed—the owner, with his staff and one of his boys, the pro that trains at the park, and the middle aged guy who found his passion for riding at the park, all riding together.

Ride Report: Joyride 150 Staff Ride at Durham Forest. August 30, 2016.
The trails at Durham are so much fin, and were that much better with such an awesome crew. There was lots of good natured hassling and equal amounts of encouragement, but this report is going to focus on my pal Drew. Why? For the same reason that I titled this post “Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson (Full Disclosure: I’m not really Drew’s pal, unless the fact that he knows my name and I love him counts as pals). You see, Drew thought it would be fun to spend the day chirping me and teasing me. “Mark, Drew’s bugging me again” was my soundtrack for the day. He chirped me for standing on my bike to grind up a big climb (while he sailed past me, sitting, like he was actually descending). He ripped past me, doing a little tail whip that placed the perfect amount of sand, in the perfect location, directly on my shoes. He just kept razzing me. Well, who has the last laugh now Mr. Drew Bezanson Pro BMX, Red Bull guy? Yup, for the rest of eternity, whenever someone Googles “Drew Bezanson”, somewhere under the X-Games championship videos, the “Uncontainable” videos, the Red Bull videos, the Joyride 150, Crankworx, and “Learning Curve” videos, there’ll be the Team Colin Blog, and a big picture of Drew and his pal, me.

Epic boom.

By the way, if I wasn’t being clear, ITWASAWESOME to be teased by Drew. He’s not just one of the best BMXers in the world, he has the good looks of an entire boy band, charm to match, and an honest niceness about him that is disarming, welcoming, and genuinely cool.

Oh yeah, the ride report. It was a sweet ride, and after the ride, I joined the staff back at the bike park for pizza. When my face was fully stuffed, they rode at the park, and I went home to nap. I think Drew went back to Olympus…

End of ride report.

And even though some of us have a family to think about, or a bike park to run, or sponsors to maintain, or a heavy weight on their shoulders (a burden that each of us would have gladly shared if it would have made the load a bit lighter); and even though we were a middle aged XC racer, or a slightly older bike park owner, or a Red Bull pro, a 20 something guy who’s about to start college next week, or an almost 30 something who is about to start a corporate job the week after, or a millwright, or just a guy who likes to thrash on his BMX (who brought his younger brother), for a few hours on a late summer day, we played on our bikes.

We were out for a rip, and nothing else mattered. You can’t beat that.

Ride.

 

PS

Tuesday morning was awesome. But then, by some the grace of the Cycling Gods, the day got better. A whole lott better. The final King Weekly Series race of the season.

Here’s my Facebook post that night:

WHAT A GREAT DAY OF PLAYING BIKES! First, I got to rip the trails at Durham Forest with these happy riders (even though Drew kept making fun of me) at the Joyride150 Indoor Bike Park staff ride. Then, I got to race the final King Weekly Series of the summer with this guy. Note: I’m pretty sure Drew Bezanson and I are now best friends. It’s totally true.

Under the post was the sweet shot of me and Drew.

Yeah, my pal Drew came to the King Weekly Series. In the last lap, he passed me (and let me tell you, it took him long enough to finally lap me—honestly Drew, I expected more from you…), and let me tell you, if the events of the day were awesome, the moment that he sailed past me was the highlight. It was like I was in “BMX: The Movie”. He RIPPED a berm that wasn’t even there, cornering like the BMX pro that he is. He was an absolute boss; low to the ground, bars counter steering, dirt flying. It was like watching an artist create a masterpiece. IT WAS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!

My family was there too, and they got to see their dad casually chatting with a pro athlete after the race. Pretty sweet.

After the race, the organizers from Evolution Cycles, and some of the racers, went to a pub for wings and talk. Jamie Davies, the owner of Evolution Cycles, and organizer fo the race said “How’d you get Drew to come?”. That’s the magic of Team Colin, baby. Plus, Drew’s totally my BFF.

Tuesday was everything I love about the word of bikes.  I’m not sure if it was wise to ride twice on Tuesday, especially with the Substance Poojects XC Marathon Championship coming up this Saturday, but a chance to ride is a chance to ride.  Two chances are just awesome.